Celebrating the Freedom to Read

September 25-October 2, 2010

Banned Book WeekIt’s the end of a long day.  You’ve only got one more errand before you get home to your family, the dinner table, and the homework routine.  You pull into the front parking lot of the public library, jog up the front steps and head for the online public library catalog.  In one hand, you’ve got your library card and in the other hand, your daughter’s required reading list from school.

Earlier in the day, you scanned the list and were pleased to see some of your favorite classics.  You key in To Kill A Mockingbird and wait for the search results.  You notice something odd.  Every copy in the library system has been withdrawn.  Well, books do wear out and the library’s had a lot of budget cuts, so you move to the next book on the list, Beloved by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison.  To your frustration, all fourteen copies listed in the catalog have been marked withdrawn.  You begin to move through the list of titles more quickly.  Of Mice and Men.  All copies withdrawn.  The Great Gatsby, Native Son, Brideshead Revisited, The Lord of the Flies  — all withdrawn.

Frustrated, you flag down a librarian who regretfully explains to you that, due to the efforts of a local citizens group, Decent People United Against Smut, these classics as well as others have been removed from the library’s collection.

Think For Yourself--and Let Others Do the Same!Orwellian nightmare?  Not if some Americans had their way.  Each day, across the country, one of our most basic freedoms — the freedom to read — is in danger.  In communities large and small, censorship attempts every year threaten to undermine our First Amendment freedom to read.  The rights and protections of the First Amendment include children as well as adults.  While parents have the right — and the responsibility — to guide their own children’s reading, that right does not extend to other people’s children.

When we speak up to protect the right to read, we not only defend our individual right to free expression, we demonstrate tolerance and respect for opposing points of view.  And when we take action to preserve our precious freedoms, we become participants in the ongoing evolution of our democratic society.

Read Banned BooksVisit the library during September 25 to October 2, 2010 and celebrate your freedom to read during Banned Books Week.  Check out some of the  lists of books which have been challenged or banned  online and take one home, read it, and decide whether you like it or not.  Think for yourself and let others do the same!


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